Editor: Jonathan Karp
My editor is Jonathan Karp, a wunderkind editor who rose to editor-in-chief of Random House before he one day just quit. (You know you have made it when your departure from a job becomes a New York Times article.) It really perplexed spectators as there was no obvious reason why he left except he wanted to do some “creative drifting” (which at the time sounded in league with wanting to “spend more time with the family”). Among the books Jon was best known for at Random House are The Orchid Thief, Seabiscuit, The Dante Club, Shadow Divers, among others. His Twelve bio goes into more detail.
To be honest, I had never heard of Jon before my agent, Larry Weissman, told me with excitement that Jon Karp was potentially interested in the book. (After all, books, like articles, focus on author bylines). “But it’s Jon Karp!” he said to my muted reaction. (I was like, “So?”)
I soon learned what was “so?” by doing some reconnaissance. Imprints and editor reputations are more useful information for retailers and the book industry insiders than for normal readers, but they have their reputations for a reason. Jon, I was told, sat neatly at the intersection between commercial success and critical acclaim.
We submitted our proposal on a late Friday …maybe around 3:30 p.m.? Within an hour, Larry had heard back from Jon saying he was interested. By Monday morning, Jon made a pre-emptive bid, which sent other publishing houses into a mad rush to get a bid in by the end of the day. Out of the five bids, we still ended up going with Jon.
As my agent promised, Jon has been an absolutely fantastic and engaged editor. I met in person maybe once a month as I was shaping my book. As many in the company explained to me, he just “gets it” from all angles.
The book proposal was good. But the book is probably 3x better than my original proposal because of Jon’s shaping.